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January 24, 2020

Deadly new virus has the WHO concerned

A mysterious new virus has claimed the lives of 18 Chinese citizens and infected over 600 since December 31st. The virus possibly originated from an animal species in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China. It has recently been confirmed that it can also spread through human-to-human contact. The virus causes a pneumonia-like illness and has been linked to the coronavirus family. Why is it causing a stir in US news outlets? The first known case in the USA was reported earlier this week in Washington State, but the WHO has yet to declare it a "public health emergency." You can find the latest updates here.

A black market for insulin? —

What happens when you're mugged and your bag containing your license, credit cards, cell phone, AND life-saving medication is gone? You're SOL. The medication, in this case insulin, isn't as easy (or potentially as affordable) to replace as are the rest of your belongings. When Heather Walker, a graduate student in California, was mugged, losing her purse and all of its belongings -- including a month's supply of insulin used to treat her Type 1 Diabetes -- she had to pay $500 out of her own pocket to replace the medication (her insurance company refused to cover it). Others in similar situations are relying on more "non-prescriptive" measures, sharing extra insulin and even swapping or selling it "illegally." Until a better solution can be put into place (i.e. more affordable or accessible insulin), it doesn't look like there are many alternatives for people who can't afford the life-sustaining drug.

How do we improve the state of nursing and health care for all? —

Full practice authority. Only half of US states allow full practice authority for nurse practitioners, meaning they can perform tasks including "ordering and interpreting diagnostic procedures, certifying disability, and prescribing, administering, and dispensing controlled substances." For these states, this is a huge benefit, especially with an aging Boomer population and a growing demand for health care. One place this authority makes a huge difference is in New Mexico, where rural health care faces challenges in the supply of physicians. An influx of NP residency programs is currently being used to combat this shortage. Moreover, with legislation on the line in California, now is the time to show how effective full practice authority can be!

To work per diem, or not to work per diem, that is the question —

The typical 9-5 workday doesn't really apply to most of us, with up to 65% of us already working 12-13 hour shifts a few days a week. But what adds even more flexibility (for better or worse)? Per diem shifts. These added, often ad hoc, shifts can provide even more flexibility or income, but there's no guarantee of work. So, what are the pros? Higher hourly wage, the option of saying no to a shift, good alternative for new grad nurses getting into the workforce (in certain settings), potential tax breaks, and an almost-endless supply of work. The cons? Often lack full-time benefits, last-minute call to actions, too few or sporadic weekly hours, tax planning, and more time spent looking for opportunities on a regular basis. Ultimately, both sides provide plenty of positives with a handful of additional challenges. The choice is yours, and you might even find that one or both of these avenues work best for you at different times in your life.

Is it possible to overdose on vitamin supplements? —

Yes, and it's not very hard to do. Most of us consume some kind of supplementation on a regular basis, whether that be weekly or daily. However, it's easier than you think to overdo it. While most water-soluble vitamins are relatively harmless thanks to our body's ability to excrete them via urine, fat-soluble vitamins absorb more readily into tissue and organs. The most common offenders? Vitamins B3, B6, B9, C, A, D, and E. If you're supplementing with any of these vitamins, make sure you're not surpassing upper intake levels.

The new off-shift pastime? —

TikTok. The increasing amount of health care influencers on social media is bringing with it plenty of wisdom, humor, and in some cases, controversy. When it comes to the controversy, it centers around the way the public may perceive nurses in their professional roles. Patients trust health care providers, and this holds true on social media platforms. This power can be used for good or evil. Dr. Bonnie Clipper, DNP, RN recently commented on this phenomenon, stating, "After being selected as the Most Trusted Profession for 18 years in a row, I certainly hate to see us negatively impact how the public views us." As medical professionals, we should use these channels to share true and useful information as well as discourage others in our position from doing the opposite. In the meantime, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, check out the top nursing influencers currently taking over TikTok.

Clockin' Out ✌

Is "buttcheek" one word, or do you spread them apart?